Only 1 in 4 fathers opting for paid paternity leave

The scheme was launched in September last year

Just one in four fathers have opted for paid paternity leave in Ireland since the scheme was launched in September.

Figures for the first three months of the scheme's operation show 3,581 claims for the two weeks of paid leave were approved from September 1st to November 31st.

The leave can be taken any time in the first 26 weeks after a child's birth, so those with children born on September 1st have until the end of February to avail of it.

The figures also show fathers from all counties claimed the leave, as well as a small number living in Northern Ireland who were entitled because of PRSI contributions paid in the Republic, and just one living abroad.

Minister for Social Protection told the Irish Examiner he was "delighted" with the take-up.

More than half of the countries in the European Union offer paid paternity leave to fathers. Sweden offers around seven days leave reserved only for men. However, when taking into account wider parental leave, the country has one of the most generous packages, with new fathers able to claim 14 days to 10 weeks at 75% of earnings. 

In the UK, new fathers are entitled to up to £139.58 a week for two weeks, although they can take longer unpaid leave.

According to 2015 research from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), paternity leave uptake is growing fastest in countries such as Finland, where the male share of paid parental leave doubled between the 2006 and 2013.

In Belgium it grew by almost 10 percentage points over the same period. In Austria and France, men account for just 4% of parents taking parental leave, broadly the same as about a decade ago.